Hiking and Traveling in Patagonia

The Ultimate Guide

Patagonia comes from "Patagones", the name given by the Portuguese mariner Magellan to the incredibly strong and tall native population found on that land during his 1520 expedition. It is now believed that they were Tehuelches, a population taller than their European counterparts. Delimited by the Rio Colorado at the north and by Cape Horn at the south, Patagonia spans a massive 1,043,076 square kilometers, but counts less than one inhabitant per square kilometer. While mostly arid, this fascinating land offers a diversity of landscapes and endless spaces where nature thrives. The majority of Patagonia is part of Argentina but some areas also belong to Chile

Regions of Patagonia Regions of Patagonia
The main activity in Patagonia is hiking, as the region is filled with stunning national parks. Every year, thousands of trekkers come to towns such as El Chalten to explore the world-class treks found around the village and cross the border to Chile, to hike around the national park Torres del Paine, famous for its W trek. However for those who like to discover the landscape by other means and experience other types of sensations, Argentina is also famous for its gaucho culture, so you may enjoy an afternoon or even a few days of cabalgata, or horseback riding. Many other adventurous activities such as kayak, rafting, paragliding, and also skiing during winter can be fun to experience during your trip to Patagonia.

For those who enjoy road trips, renting a car around the area of the Seven Lakes is a great option to explore the beautiful region. You must not leave Patagonia without having seen one of its spectacular glaciers, especially the Perito Moreno, considered to be the most impressive of all. If you are interested in discovering Patagonia's extensive wildlife, you must explore the east coast, such as the Peninsula Valdes. Whales, sea lions, penguins and also guanacos, nandus and many other fascinating animals can be observed from there. If you go all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, in Ushuaia, also named "The End of The World", you must go on a boat excursion on the Beagle Canal, in which you may choose to see penguins and sea lions. Finally, for those who wish to have a break from all the hiking and other sporty activities and would like to learn more about Patagonia and its history, you will find that most cities and villages have interesting museums that are worth having a look around.

How to get around the region

By Bus

Taking the public bus (el micro) is probably the easiest and cheapest way to travel in Patagonia as there are no more railroads in Argentina. Buses are very comfortable and if you decide take the road during the night to save some time and accommodation fees, you can opt for a bed seat, called ejecutivo cama. All the information on bus timetables and availability can be found at the local tourism offices or on www.busplus.com.ar/ and https://www.omnilineas.com.ar/. It is possible to book your tickets online but you will need to bring the printed tickets to be accepted on the bus. Buying your tickets at the bus station, called Terminal de ómnibus, is very easy and can be done less than an hour before departure during low season. Please note that bus timetables vary a lot during high and low seasons. While the Ruta 40 is accessible by car all year long, buses do not go any more south than Esquel on the Ruta 40 from the beginning of March to the end of September, as this part of the road is not properly built, and is usually covered in snow and ice during winter. Therefore only experienced and well-equipped drivers should think about taking the Ruta 40 all the way down during this period of the year. Bus prices can vary from USD$5 to USD$150 depending on the length of the trip and the type of seat chosen.

By Car

While having a car will definitely give you more liberty during your trip (times of departure, exploring areas where buses don't go, useful for camping), choosing to travel through Patagonia by car has to be well thought. It requires a higher budget and more time than travelling by bus. You will also have to be well equipped, as you will go through never ending straight roads in the middle of the pampa, but also many tracks that require prudence. Car rental agencies include http://www.rentcarargentina.com.ar, https://www.hertz.com.ar, http://www.avis.com.ar/index_cotizador.asp, https://www.sixt.com.ar and are easy to find on the Internet. Be aware that if your itinerary is not a loop, many car rental agencies will charge you for not returning the car at the same location where you started. Also, it is better to rent a car directly in the city rather than at the airport where, in addition to a tax, the price to rent a vehicle is raised by 20%.

By Plane

If you have a higher budget, you may also choose to travel by plane to the few cities that have airports in order to save some time. Prices can vary from USD$150 to USD$450 depending on the length of the trip, the season during which you are travelling and how early you book your tickets. The company Aerolineas Argentinas provides flights everywhere in Patagonia (http://www.aerolineas.com.ar), as well as LATAM Airlines if you wish to go to the Chilean side (www.latam.com/Viajes/Aerolinea).

Advised itinerary and when to travel

Seasons in Patagonia:
Spring - transition months: September, October and November.
Summer - hottest months: December, January and February.
Autumn - transition months: March, April and May.
Winter - coldest months: June, July and August.

Travelling during low season: If you love the snow, winter landscapes, skiing and travelling during low season with few tourists and lower prices, you should definitely visit Patagonia during end of autumn or beginning of spring. While you will get all the advantages of travelling during low season, you will also be able to enjoy a sunny weather, still very cold but manageable. While a few activities (hikes, excursions) will begin to close (end of autumn) or still be closed (towards spring), you will definitely be able to do most of the essential activities and to fully enjoy some of them as you might find that you have a hiking path all to yourself! The differences in prices between low and high season are not tremendous but you will probably be able to save some money on deals with accommodation and a few other fees.

Travelling during high season: If you have specific activities in mind that you wish to do such as camping, driving through Ruta 40 all the way down, specific hike trails then you should definitely consider travelling around summer time. However be aware that as you get further south, temperatures during summer will not exceed 20°C/68°F and the wind may remain very strong.

Suggested Itineraries for Patagonia

The Seven Lakes Road, Skiing and Hiking (2 Weeks)

Click for larger view
Day 1: Buenos Aires / San Martin de los Andes
Take a bus to San Martin de los Andes. Spend a relaxing day in the small town, visit its museum and get organized for your first day of trekking.

Day 2: San Martin de los Andes
Spend a day hiking around the famous Parque Nacional Lanin. Adventure seekers may prefer to begin the trip with other activities such as rafting, canoe or horseback riding.

Day 3: San Martin de los Andes / Villa la Angostura
Rent a car or take a bus to explore the Road of the Seven Lakes between San Martin de los Andes and Villa la Angostura.

Day 4: Villa la Angostura
If you are travelling during winter, enjoy a ski day at the Cerro Baryo. During summer, you can also explore the area by hiking around the Cerro Inacayal and the Cerro Belvedere, where you will get a spectacular view over the region.

Day 5: Villa la Angostura
Spend a day hiking in the Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes to discover the beautiful and unique Arrayanes trees.

Day 6: Villa la Angostura / Puerto Varas
Take a bus to Puerto Varas (Chile) and discover the charming little town.

Day 7: Puerto Varas
Enjoy an activity of your choice. Kayak, paddle, canyoning, rock climbing, ski, fishing, trekking in the Cochamo and Rio Puelo Valley or around the Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales.

Day 8: Puerto Varas / Bariloche
Take the bus to Bariloche. Explore the town and its famous cathedral, visit its museums to learn more about Patagonia's history, and organize the activities you wish to do in Bariloche.

Day 9: Bariloche
Spend a day skiing around Argentina's most famous ski station, the Cerro Catedral. If you are travelling during summer, you can still enjoy the view from the Cerro Catedral and you may also want to go up the Cerro Otto.

Day 10: Bariloche
Hike around the Parque Nacional Nahuel Napi or discover the Cerro Tronador and the Cascadas Los Alerces of the Parque Nacional Los Alerces

Day 11: Bariloche / El Bolsón
Climb up the Cerro Campanario for its breath-taking panoramic view and enjoy your last moments in the stunning area of Bariloche with a hike in the Parque Municipal Llao Llao. Take a bus in the evening to El Bolsón.

Day 12: El Bolsón
If you arrive on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday, discover the town's famous artisanal market. Otherwise enjoy a day of the activity of your choice, hiking, skiing, relaxing around Lago Puelo or Lago Azul.

Day 13: El Bolsón / Esquel
Take a bus to Esquel. Enjoy a tour on the legendary La Trochita train or explore one of the many hikes around the city to get a panoramic view on the area.

Day 14: Esquel
Ski at the Cerro La Hoya for those who are travelling during winter, or hike around the Parque Nacional Los Alerces to discover the famous Alerces trees of Patagonia.

Hiking to the End of The Earth (2 Weeks)

by G Adventures
$3739
15 days
Day 1: Buenos Aires/El Chaltén
Flight to El Calafate in the morning. Wander around the town and visit the Reserva Laguna Nimez, where you will observe flamingos and other spectacular bird species. Take a bus in the end of afternoon to El Chaltén.

Day 2: El Chaltén
Hiking of your choice around El Chaltén, also called the "Trekking Capital".

Day 3: El Chaltén
Hiking of your choice.

Day 4: El Chaltén/El Calafate
Enjoy a short hike in the morning and take a bus in the end of afternoon back to El Calafate.

Day 5: El Calafate
Visit the Glaciarium museum in the morning and book your excursion to the Perito Moreno for the afternoon.

Day 6: El Calafate / Puerto Natales
Take a bus towards Puerto Natales and enjoy some time in the town. Visit its history museum or hike towards the Mirador Dorotea, if you have time.

Day 7: Puerto Natales / Torres del Paine
Take a bus to Torres del Paine and start the W trek or other hikes in the Park.

Day 8: Torres del Paine
Hiking and camping.

Day 9: Torres del Paine
Hiking and Camping.

Day 10: Torres del Paine / Puerto Natales
Take a bus back to Puerto Natales. If you did not have the chance to do it before and if you have time, walk to the Mirador Dorotea. You can also choose to directly take a bus to Punta Arenas.

Day 11: Puerto Natales / Punta Arenas
Take a bus towards Punta Arenas. Discover the town, its museums, market, cemetery, plazas and panoramic views or if you have a full day, leave for an excursion to the Isla Magdalena or to the Fuerte Bulnes and Puerto del Hambre.

Day 12: Punta Arenas / Ushuaia
Take a bus towards Ushuaia.

Day 13: Ushuaia
Visit one of Ushuaia's museum in the morning and enjoy a boat excursion on the Beagle Canal in the afternoon to discover 'The End of the World' and see sea lions and penguins.

Day 14: Ushuaia
Spend a day trekking in the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego.

Day 15: Ushuaia/Buenos Aires
Fly back to Buenos Aires.


Central and Southern Patagonia (3 Weeks)

by G Adventures
$0
1 days
Day 1: Buenos Aires / San Carlos de Bariloche
Fly to Bariloche in the morning. Explore the town and its famous cathedral, visit its museums to learn more about Patagonia's history, and organize the activities you wish to do in Bariloche.

Day 2: San Carlos de Bariloche
Spend a day skiing around Argentina's most famous ski station, the Cerro Catedral. If you are travelling during summer, you can still enjoy the view from the Cerro Catedral and you may also want to go up the Cerro Otto.

Day 3: San Carlos de Bariloche / Puerto Varas
Hike around the Parque Nacional Nahuel Napi or discover the Cerro Tronador and the Cascadas Los Alerces of the Parque Nacional Los Alerces. You can also decide to climb up the Cerro Campanario for its breath-taking panoramic view and enjoy your last moments in the stunning area of Bariloche with a hike in the Parque Municipal Llao Llao

Day 4: Bariloche / Puerto Varas
Take a bus to Puerto Varas and discover the charming little town and decide on which activity you wish to do.

Day 5: Puerto Varas
Enjoy an activity of your choice. Kayak, paddle, canyoning, rock climbing, ski, fishing, trekking in the Cochamo and Rio Puelo Valley or around the Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales.

Day 6: Puerto Varas / Punta Arenas
Fly to Punta Arenas in the morning. Discover the town, its museums, market, cemetery, plazas and panoramic views.

Day 6: Punta Arenas
Discover a penguin colony with an excursion to the Isla Magdalena or spend the day at the legendary Fuerte Bulnes & Puerto del Hambre.

Day 7: Puerto Natales / Puerto Natales / Torres del Paine
Enjoy a beautiful bus trip towards Puerto Natales and then a bus towards Torres del Paine. You can do the famous W Trek only if you have minimum 4 days to spend in the park. Otherwise there are many other beautiful treks.

Day 8: Torres del Paine
Hiking and camping.

Day 9: Torres del Paine
Hiking and camping.

Day 10: Torres del Paine / Puerto Natales
Take a bus back to Puerto Natales.

Day 11: Puerto Natales / El Calafate
Take the bus to El Calafate in the morning. Wander around the town and visit the Reserva Laguna Nimez, where you will observe flamingos and other spectacular bird species.

Mt. Fitz Roy
Day 12: El Calafate
Visit the Glaciarium museum in the morning to learn more about glaciers before going to the Perito Moreno in the afternoon.

Day 13: El Calafate / El Chaltén
Take a bus to El Chalten in the morning and enjoy a short hike in the afternoon around the 'Trekking Capital'.

Day 14: El Chaltén
Hiking of your choice.

Day 15: El Chaltén
Hiking of your choice.

Day 16: El Chaltén/El Calafate
Enjoy a short hike in the morning and take a bus in the end of afternoon back to El Calafate.

Day 17: El Calafate/Ushuaia
Take a bus towards Ushuaia.

Day 18: Ushuaia
Visit one of Ushuaia's museum in the morning and enjoy a boat excursion on the Beagle Canal in the afternoon to discover 'The End of the World' and see sea lions and penguins.

Day 19: Ushuaia
Spend a day trekking in the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego.

Day 20: Ushuaia / Buenos Aires
Fly back to Buenos Aires.


All of Patagonia: Travelling for more than a month

Day 1: Buenos Aires / San Martin de los Andes
Take a bus to San Martin de los Andes. Spend a relaxing day in the small town, visit its museum and get organized for your first day of trekking

Day 2: San Martin de los Andes
Spend a day hiking around the famous Parque Nacional Lanin. Adventure seekers may prefer to begin the trip with other activities such as rafting, canoe or horseback riding.

Day 3: San Martin de los Andes / Villa la Angostura
Rent a car or take a bus to explore the Road of the Seven Lakes between San Martin de los Andes and Villa la Angostura.

Day 4: Villa la Angostura
If you are travelling during winter, enjoy a ski day at the Cerro Baryo. During summer, you can also explore the area by hiking around the Cerro Inacayal and the Cerro Belvedere, where you will get a spectacular view over the region.

Day 5: Villa la Angostura
Spend a day hiking in the Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes to discover the beautiful and unique Arrayanes trees.

Day 6: Villa la Angostura / Puerto Varas
Take a bus to Puerto Varas (Chile) and discover the charming little town.

Day 7: Puerto Varas
Enjoy an activity of your choice. Kayak, paddle, canyoning, rock climbing, ski, fishing, trekking in the Cochamo and Rio Puelo Valley or around the Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales.

Day 8: Puerto Varas / Bariloche
Take the bus to Bariloche. Explore the town and its famous cathedral, visit its museums to learn more about Patagonia's history, and organize the activities you wish to do in Bariloche.

Cerro Catedral
Day 9: Bariloche
Spend a day skiing around Argentina's most famous ski station, the Cerro Catedral. If you are travelling during summer, you can still enjoy the view from the Cerro Catedral and you may also want to go up the Cerro Otto.

Day 10: Bariloche
Hike around the Parque Nacional Nahuel Napi or discover the Cerro Tronador and the Cascadas Los Alerces of the Parque Nacional Los Alerces

Day 11: Bariloche / Esquel
Climb up the Cerro Campanario for its breath-taking panoramic view and enjoy your last moments in the stunning area of Bariloche with a hike in the Parque Municipal Llao Llao. Take a bus to Esquel.

Day 12: Esquel
Enjoy a tour on the legendary La Trochita train or explore one of the many hikes around the city to get a panoramic view on the area.

Day 13: Esquel
Ski at the Cerro La Hoya for those who are travelling during winter, or hike around the Parque Nacional Los Alerces to discover the famous Alerces trees of Patagonia.

Day 14: Esquel / Rio Futaleufu
Take a bus to Futaleufu.

Day 15: Rio Futaleufu
Visit the biggest private park of chile, the Parque Pumalin or enjoy a day of watersports in the beautiful surroundings of Futaleufu.

Day 15: Rio Futaleufu / Coyhaique
Take a bus to Coyhaique.

Day 16: Coyhaique
Walk 1h30 to reach the Reserva Nacional Coyhaique, where you will get a beautiful panoramic view. Or enjoy a beach day at the Lago Elizalde, only 33 km away from Coyhaique or a kayak trip for those adventure-seekers.

Day 17: Coyhaique / Los Antiguos or Perito Moreno (town)
Take a bus or a ferry either to Los Antiguos or the town of Perito Moreno, both found on the Argentinean side. Visit the well-known and spectacular but unfortunately difficult to access, Cueva de Las Manos in the afternoon.

Day 18: Los Antiguos or Perito Moreno (town) / El Chaltén
Take a bus to to El Chalten.

Day 19: El Chalten
Hiking of your choice.

Day 20: El Chalten
Hiking of your choice.

Day 21: El Chaltén / El Calafate
Enjoy a short hike in the morning and take a bus in the end of afternoon back to El Calafate.

Moreno Glacier
Day 22: El Calafate
Visit the Glaciarium museum in the morning to learn more about glaciers before going to the Perito Moreno in the afternoon.

Day 23: El Calafate / Puerto Natales
Wander around the town and visit the Reserva Laguna Nimez, where you will observe flamingos and other spectacular bird species. Take a bus in the end of afternoon to Puerto Natales.

Day 24: Puerto Natales / Torres del Paine
Takes a bus towards Torres del Paine to start the famous W trek.

Torres del Paine
Day 25: Torres del Paine
W Trek and camping.

Day 26: Torres del Paine
W Trek and camping.

Day 27: Torres del Paine / Puerto Natales
End of the W trek and bus back to Puerto Natales.

Day 28: Puerto Natales / Punta Arenas
Take a bus towards Punta Arenas. Discover the town, its museums, market, cemetery, plazas and panoramic views or if you have a full day, leave for an excursion to the Isla Magdalena or to the Fuerte Bulnes and Puerto del Hambre.

Day 29: Punta Arenas / Ushuaia
Take a bus towards Ushuaia.

Ushuaia, Argentina Ushuaia, Argentina
Day 30: Ushuaia
Visit one of Ushuaia's museums in the morning and enjoy a boat excursion on the Beagle Canal in the afternoon to discover 'The End of the World' and see sea lions and penguins.

Day 31: Ushuaia / Trelew
Spend a day trekking in the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. Fly to Trelew in the evening.

Day 32: Trelew / Puerto Madryn
Take a bus to Puerto Madryn in the morning and discover the city and its museums in the afternoon.

Day 33: Puerto Madryn / Puerto Piramides
Take a bus to Puerto Piramides in the morning and enjoy activities in the Peninsula Valdes such as kayaking with the whales, whales watching on an excursion boat, walking along the 3km beach Playa del Molino.

Day 34: Peninsula Valdes
Sleep at Puerto Piramides. Visit the Punta Norte or the Punta Cantor in the Peninsula Valdes to discover more of its wildlife.

Day 35: Puerto Piramides / Puerto Madryn / Buenos Aires
Take a bus back to Puerto Madryn. Either take a bus back to Buenos Aires or take a bus to Trelew to fly back to Buenos Aires.


Only in Chilean Patagonia (3 to 4 Weeks)

Day 1: Temuco
Fly to Temuco in the morning and discover the city in the afternoon. Do not miss the Monumento Natural Cerro Nielol and the Museo Regional de La Araucania.

Day 2: Temuco
Hike in the beautiful Parque Nacional Conguillio, made of forests, lakes and canyons and famous for its reserve of Chilean araucarias trees.

Day 3: Vallarica
Take a bus to Villarica (you can also stay in Pucon). Hike or enjoy a watersport such as rafting or kayak in the Parque Nacional Villarrica, famous for its volcanoes or the Parque Nacional Huerquehue, famous for its forest of lengas trees.

Day 4: Vallarica
Enjoy a day trip on a sled dog excursion or visit the peaceful village of Curarrehue, perfect if you wish to immerse yourself into the Mapuche culture.

Day 5: Vallarica / Puerto Varas
Take a bus to Puerto Varas and discover the charming little town.

Day 6: Puerto Varas
Enjoy an activity of your choice. Kayak, paddle, canyoning, rock climbing, ski, fishing, trekking in the Cochamo and Rio Puelo Valley or around the Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales.

Day 7: Puerto Varas
Enjoy an activity of your choice. Kayak, paddle, canyoning, rock climbing, ski, fishing, trekking in the Cochamo and Rio Puelo Valley or around the Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales.

Day 8: Puerto Varas / Castro
Take a bus towards Castro, the capital of the legendary Chiloé Island. Visit the city's famous Iglesia San Francisco de Castro and explore the Museo Regional de Castro

Day 9: Castro
Visit the Isla Quinchao, its numerous churches and artisans markets.

Day 10: Castro
Hike around the Parque Nacional Chiloé and discover its great variety of bird species,

Day 11: Castro / Futaleufu
Take a bus to Futaleufu. If you are travelling on a thursday you can also take a bus to Quellon, the terminus to the legendary Ruta 5. Then take a ferry to Chaiten at 3pm and another bus towards Futaleufu.

Day 12: Futaleufu
Visit the biggest private park of chile, the Parque Pumalin.

Day 13: Futaleufu
Enjoy a day of watersports in the beautiful surroundings of Futaleufu.

Day 14: Futaleufu / Coyhaique
Take a bus to Coyhaique.

Day 15: Coyhaique
Walk 1h30 to reach the Reserva Nacional Coyhaique, where you will get a beautiful panoramic view.

Day 16: Coyhaique
Enjoy a beach day at the Lago Elizalde, only 33 km away from Coyhaique or a kayak trip for those adventure-seekers.

Day 17: Coyhaique / Puerto Natales
Take a bus towards Puerto Natales

Torres del Paine Glacier
Day 18: Puerto Natales / Torres del Paine
Takes a bus towards Torres del Paine to start the famous W trek.

Day 19: Torres del Paine
W Trek and camping.

Day 20: Torres del Paine
W Trek and camping.

Day 21: Torres del Paine / Puerto Natales
End of the W trek and bus back to Puerto Natales

Day 22: Puerto Natales / Punta Arenas
Take a bus towards Punta Arenas. Discover the town, its museums, market, cemetery, plazas and panoramic views.

Day 23: Punta Arenas
Discover a penguin colony on an excursion to the Isla Magdalena.

Day 24: Punta Arenas
Enjoy a day at the Fuerte Bulnes and Puerto del Hambre.

Day 25: Punta Arenas / Puerto Williams
Take a boat or a plane to Puerto Williams. Visit the southernmost town in the world and its museum.

Day 26: Puerto Williams
Do the first part of the Dientes de Navarino hike in one day. If you have 5 more days, you can leave on the famous 5 day hike to the Dientes de Navarino.

Patagonia: The Argentina Side

This is the second part of our Patagonia Guide. Read on for more information about the Argentina side of Patagonia, or use the table of contents to find other regions, such as the Chile side.

Northwest Patagonia

San Carlos de Bariloche

Map of the City | Map of the Area

The surprising little city of the Rio Negro is the chic ski resort for Argentineans during winter. The resemblance with Switzerland and Austria is found in landscape, lakes, mountains, pine tree forests and also in the architecture with wooden chalets, and the gastronomy, chocolate, fondue and so on.... If you visit Bariloche, you must try their chocolate en rama, a delicious and light chocolate bar in the form of the bark of a tree trunk. While Bariloche rimes with exoticism for Argentineans, some Europeans might find the resemblance with the Alps disappointing. However Bariloche stretches out all along the Nahuel Huapi Lake, at the bottom of the Andes, only a few kilometres away from the Chilean border and close to the Seven Lakes (ten can be counted in reality). Many Argentineans as well as Brazilians come to the city to see the mountains and snow for the first time, and also to celebrate the end of their school year. This party city has some of the best clubs of the country!

Activities

Within the city
Museo de la Patagonia (USD$3 entry fee): Great to learn more about the region, the fauna, the Mapuche Indians and the settlers who participated in their extinguishment.

Museo del Chocolate (USD$3 entry fee): During the week, you can observe the production process of chocolate (also possible to see the manufacturing process in the artisanal chocolate factories Frantom or Turista). Most of Argentina's chocolate production occurs in Bariloche and the museum exposes all types of ancient objects related to chocolate. For chocolate lovers, we recommend the "chocolate street", where you will be able to choose from more than ten different chocolate shops all in the main street of Bariloche.

Catedral Nuestra Senora del Nahuel Huapi: The Neo-Gothic Cathedral of the XX century is surrounded by a small park and looks more appealing from the outside.

Around the city
Hiking in Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi (USD$7 park entry fee for adults over 16 years-old): Beautiful hikes of around 4 hours each. Possibility to camp within authorized areas. Useful information can be found directly at the Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi Office and Club Andino in Bariloche.

Cerro Catedral (bus and cable car USD$17): About 20km away from the city centre, the Cerro Catedral is Argentina's most famous ski station and is easy to access by bus (about 30min). Tickets can be bought directly in the bus. A cable car will bring you every day and every 10min to the top from 9h to 18h during high season and Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9h to 17h during low season. You can still admire a lovely panorama from the Cerro Catedral during summer either by taking the cable car or walking 4 hours to Punta Princesa and then 45min through the path Las Nubes.

Cerro Otto (USD$15 including a shuttle from the city-center leaving every hour from 10h to 17h30): Another one of Bariloche's famous panoramic view. Accessible by car or by foot, around 45min in a poorly maintained path.

Cerro Tronador and Cascadas Los Alerces: Found inside the Parque Nacional Los Alerces, these sites are accessible by car (take Ruta 40 towards Esquel and turn right at Villa Mascardi) and by bus (during summer only, reservations only), which leaves every day around 8h30 in front of the Club Andino and takes 2h30 to get to Pampa Linda. You can stop for a meal or a drink with a lovely view on the glacier at the hotel-restaurant of Pampa Linda. You need to count 7km of walking to reach the foot of the Cerro Tronador, where you can appreciate a view on the glacier Ventisquero Negro. You can then reach the confiteria Los Ventisqueros, 3 km further, where you will have access to a 20min walk towards the garganta del Diablo. Agencies in Bariloche organise one-day excursions to the Parque Nacional Los Alerces. You need to count 3 days if you wish to climb the Cerro Tronador. As you come back, you may take another road (opened from 14h to 17h) to go admire the spectacular Cascadas Los Alerces (requires to do 3km by foot to reach it). If you decide to go by car, make sure to ask the roads' opening times at an information point in Bariloche.

Horseback Riding (USD$115 for a full day including lunch/ USD$175 per day for a longer trip including meals, accommodation, guide and pick up within Bariloche, http://arianepatagonia.com.ar ): At 6km away from Bariloche towards the airport, Ariane Helleman offers horseback riding around Bariloche and the possibility to sleep in Mapuche Indians' homes.

Boat Excursions on Nahuel Huapi Lac (USD$7 park entry fee for adults over 16 years-old): Departures are from Puerto Panuelo, on the Llao Llao peninsula, situated 25km away from Bariloche. From Bariloche you can take one of the shipping companies' buses (USD$9 return trip) or the colectivos, city bus n°20, every 20min, journey of 40min. Cau-Cau and Turisur companies both offer this excursion. The excursion of about 6h30 to Isla Victoria (USD$40 plus reduced entry fee to the park), at the heart of the Nahuel Huapi Lac, is a 40 min boat ride from Puerto Panuelo. A cafeteria is available on the Isla Victoria. The boat then takes you to Puerto Quetrihue to the stunning bosque de arrayanes (forest of rare cinnamon coloured trees still found in Japan). The excursion of about 7h30 to the brazo Puerto Blest and the Cascada los Cantaros (USD$40 plus reduced entry fee to the park) and, if you wish, to Puerto Alegre on the bank of lago Frias (1h more of excursion and USD$15 additional) will also take you to paradisiac scenes. If you wish to stay a night in this calm, magical place, the hotel-restaurant of Puerto Blest offers a good service for a reasonable price. Another excursions will take you to Chile in 12h, by taking 3 boats and 4 buses (USD$300 for the entire excursion). The trip starts like the previous one, and once at lago Frias, a bus will take you to the Chilean frontier at Perez Rosales to then arrive at Peulla in Chile and take a boat to go through the incredibly blue coloured Lago Todos los Santos surrounded by a stunning forest, numerous waterfalls and volcanoes covered by snow. Once arrived at Petrohué, a last bus will take you to Puerto Varas and then Puerto Montt by driving along the Lago Llanquihué set in front of the volcano Osorno. You can choose to come back to Bariloche with a 6h bus or continue your journey on the Chilean side.

Cerro Campanario: (Peninsula Llao Llao - take the city bus n°20, every 20min, journey of 40min, let the driver know your destination and pay directly in the bus USD$1 to USD$2) Stunning walk to a breath-taking panoramic view. You may choose to walk to the top in 30min or pay $9 for the cable car (everyday from 9h to 18h30 and 19h30 in summer, many people during high season).

Puerto Panuelo (Peninsula Llao Llao): Departures for boat excursions. Superb setting around the San Eduardo Chapel surrounded by the lake Nahuel Huapi, the lake Moreno and the chic hotel Llao Llao.

Parque Municipal Llao Llao: Walking distance from Puerto Panuelo or in summer you may take the bus n°10 from Puerto Panuelo, which will take you to spectacular panoramic views, especially on the Bahia López. For hiking lovers, there are some stunning easy hiking trails through the park, including the sendero de los Arrayanes.

Where to eat

El Boliche de Alberto (Villegas, 347): Get a taste of classic Argentinean cuisine at El Boliche de Alberto! Get an enormous steak of great quality for a very reasonable price (about USD$20 per person). The cozy and intimate ambiance of the restaurant, designed like a wine-cellar, is also animated as queues form outside the door on most nights.

La Trattoria de la Famiglia Bianchi (Espana, 590): This authentic italian restaurant is a perfect change from steak. The delicious food includes risottos, seafoods, pastas, wild mushrooms and many more classic Italian dishes. The friendly place is found on the lakeside of the Centro Civico of Bariloche (about USD$10 per person).

Familia Weiss (Almirante O'Connor, 401): Get a feel for the history of Bariloche and its unique and surprising cultural heritage at Familia Weiss; a great restaurant found in a classic chalet-style building, with a wooden interior and wooden beam. Familia Weiss has a cozy, familial atmosphere, with nightly live music. The menu is a combination of Argentinean and Central European favorites, such as steak fondue, goulash and German-style potatoes (about USD$20 per person).

O Kostelo (Quaglia, 111): The restaurant offers a beautiful view on the lake. While the service can be a little bit long, the food is creative, well-presented and served in decent portions (about USD$20 per person).

Rock Chicken (San Martin, 324): An Argentinean style fast food serving beef, burgers, fried chicken and fries in huge portions (around USD$6 per person)

Where to sleep

Best Hostels in Bariloche for Backpackers and Solo Travellers

Useful information

- Always ask information about advised itineraries and buses timetables (as they may vary during different seasons) at your accommodation's reception. They will be very helpful in planning your day!
- Secretaria municipal de turismo (Centro Civico, opened every day from 8h to 21h): http://barilochepatagonia.info, useful and detailed information in English available.
- Oficina Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi (Avenida San Martin 24, opened every day except Sunday from 8h (10h on Saturday) to 16h): http://nahuelhuapi.gov.ar, information on hiking trails, their opening times, possible excursions and where to spend the night within the park. You need to register at the office or on Internet before going on some hikes as well as when you return.
- Club Andino (Avenida Exequiel Bustillo 9500, opened every day from 9h to 13h and 16h to 20h and from December to February from 9h to 21h): http://www.clubandino.org, information for hiking in the area, weather, and shelters in the Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi.

Villa la Angostura

Map of the Seven Lakes Region

Located on the north bank of Nahuel Lapi Lake and only 90km away from Bariloche, Villa la Angostura is a vacation city where the presidential residence used to be. The Péron family spent their vacations there and Isabelita lived there under house arrest after the 1976 coup d'état. The Norman manor is now the provincial government's property. The road to Villa la Angostura offers beautiful viewpoints on the Lake and the jagged mountains as well as the Cerro Catedral. Smaller, cleaner, more chic and charming than Bariloche, Villa la Angostura is less touristy but also less lively although enjoyable city. It is a good base to discover the Arrayanes forest and a good stopover on the road to the Seven Lakes.

Activities

Around the city
Cerro Bayo: The ski station has 21 slopes and is found 3km away from Villa La Angostura towards Bariloche and then 6km more after having turned left. A city bus leaves from Villa La Angostura Bus Terminal every day to the Cerro Bayo. If you wish to explore the area, there are many beautiful hikes including the Cerro Inacayal and the Cerro Belvedere (you can ask for more information at the Tourism Office).

Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes (USD$7 park entry fee): After taking the bus from Villa La Angostura to Puerto Villa (4 to 6 buses leave every day between 8h30 and 19h - 4km south), you may choose to walk 2h30 from Bahia Brava (100m south of Puerto Villa) along a marked path through the forest or to take a boat (2 to 3 boats leave every day offering a 3h excursion for USD$25 plus USD$7 park entry fee). Boat companies are Greenleaf Turismo leaving from Bahia Mansa and Patagonia Argentina from Bahia Brava.

The Road to the Seven Lakes and el Valle Encantado: Along Ruta 40 (closed in winter from July to August due to heavy snowfall. You need to count about 2 days to do the excursion by car (loop tour of 400km, possibility to sleep a night in San Martin) and 2 to 3 days with a travel agency or public transports. Bear in mind that with public buses, you will not be able to stop at touristy stopovers along the road. From Villa La Angostura to San Martin de Los Andes, you will come across a series of beautiful lakes. All different in size, shape, colour and surroundings, the Lago Espejo dominated by the Cerro Campana, the long Lago Correntoso, the secret emerald-green Lago Escondido, the stunning Lago Villarino and Lago Falkner, which are nearly touching each other, the gorgeous Lago Machónico and finally the Lago Lacar along San Martin de Los Andes. As you come back to Villa La Angostura, you may wish to take another itinerary, passing through the paso Córdoba (pista 63 and then ruta 237) to discover el Valle Encantado and admire the strangely shaped rocks due to centuries of erosion.

Where to eat

La Luna Encantada (Cerro Belvedere, 69): Try the best pizza in town in the cute little cottage near the main road. The restaurant also serves a few pasta and salad dishes and a good selection of local beers and wines (around USD$15 per person).

El Esquiador (Las Retamas, 146): One of the favorites of the inhabitants of Villa la Angostura. El Esquiador opened another, more touristic restaurant on Arrayanes 104, named Gran Nevada (around USD$15 per person).

Lobo (Cerro Bayo, 37): Besides the fact that the food is excellent, the portions are generous, the ambiance is young and the restaurant offers live music. You can choose to seat in the cute and charming garden around small tables or inside the wooden cottage (around USD$15 per person).

Nicoletto (Pascotto, 165): Delicious, freshly made pasta with a fine selection of sauces are waiting for you at Nicoletto (around USD$8).

La Casita de la Oma (at the intersection between Cerro Inacayal and Los Taiques): Stop at La Casita de la Oma for an afternoon tea in a beautiful patio (around USD$15 per person).

Useful information

- Oficina de Informes Turisticos (Arrayanes 9, opened every day from 8h to 20h and 22h in January and February).
- Oficina de informes del Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi (in Puerto Villa, opened only during high season from Tuesday to Saturday 9h to 16h).
- Oficina de informes del Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes (in Bahia Brava).

San Martin de los Andes

The beautiful surroundings of San Martin de los Andes offer a diversity of activities including ski, snowboard, trekking, snowmobile, husky sledge and other winter activities for those who enjoy the mountains in July-August and have a substantial budget. Only 103 km from Villa La Angostura and 200 km from Bariloche, San Martin de los Andes offers good access to the National Park Lanin and the Lacar Lake as well as the Seven Lakes by ruta 40. Your stay at San Martin de los Andes during summer will hardly be restful as well, as the city offers a wide range of summertime activities such as rafting, VTT, canoe-kayak and trekking, especially in the national park and the volcano Lanin.

Activities

Within the city
La Pastera, Museo del Che (USD$1,50): http://www.lapastera.org.ar. Opened everyday except on Tuesday from 10h to 13h and 18h to 20h or 21h depending on the season, the museum explores the life of Che Guevara.

Around the city
Parque Nacional Lanin (USD$7 park entry fee for adults over 16 years-old): There are an incredible amount of possible hikes in the vast Parque Nacional Lanin (make sure to register before and after doing hikes longer than 3h at the location indicated by the Centro de Visitantes del Parque Nacional Lanin). Travel agencies in San Martin de los Andes offer various activities in the park including rafting, canoe, horseback riding, a hot bath in Lahuen-Co and many hikes. If you wish to climb the Volcano Lanin (2 day excursion only available from November to May depending on the amount of snow, no entry fee to the park), you may go through an agency or leave without a guide but you must register at the Centro de Informes, where your physical capacities, your equipment and your experience will be checked before allowing you to go on your own. You can access the Northern part of the Park by Catelli buses, leaving every hour from 6h to 22h during summer from San Martin to Junin de Los Andes (about 45min). From there 2 buses per day during high season and only 2 buses per week during low season will bring you to the Lago Paimun, starting point of the excursion to climb the Volcano Lanin. There are also 2 buses per day (about 2h) going from San Martin to Lago Huechulafquen during summer. If you can, do not miss the beautiful waterfalls El Saltillo. You may also fancy a boat excursion on the Lago Epulafquen from Puerto Canoa, area of the park where some Mapuche communities still live and may agree to take you on a horseback ride and to organise a place for you to spend the night. You can access the Southern part of the Park by car (Quila Quina, along the Lago Lacar, is 8km away from San Martin and Hua Hum, along the Lago Nonthué, is located 30km away) or by Empresa Koko buses, leaving twice a day during summer January/February from San Martin to Hua Hum. Naviera Lacar & Nonthué boats organise excursions from San Martin's pier to Quila Quina (USD$16, leaving every day and every hour from 10h to 19h during summer January/February or to Hua Hum (USD$43, only one excursion per day during high season plus entry fee to the park). If you have 3 days to spend in the Parque Nacional Lanin, you may decide to leave from Quila Quina to walk along the Lago Lacar and Lago Nonthué until you reach the camping libre del Lago Escondido. From there, an 8h hike will take you to Pucara along the Lago Nonthué, where you will find another camping libre to spend the night until the next day, when you can walk towards Hua Hum to reach the bus back to San Martin.

Where to eat
El Regional (Villegas, 953): The restaurant speciality is the tablas (sampler platters) in which you can find Patagonian dishes including boar, trout and venison cooked in a variety of ways. The portions are generous and there are great artisanal beers (around USD$15 per person).

Peperone (San Martin, 820): A great address for a quick meal on a terrace in the street. The restaurant serves hamburger, chicken, sandwiches, hot dogs (around USD$10 per person).

Bamboo (at the intersection between Belgrano and Villegas): Some say to have eaten the best meat in all Argentina.

La Fondue Betty (Villegas, 586): Try a succulent beef or cheese fondue in this restaurant where time doesn't seem to exist (around USD$15 per person).

Pizza Bar (Villegas 987): Locals come here to buy their empanadas and artisanal beers. You can also enjoy a pizza around the few tables of the small restaurant (USD$10 per person).

Torino (at the intersection between Elordi and Villegas): If you are travelling with a big group, you will be sure that everyone will be satisfied at Torino. The restaurant serves a great variety of dishes and all are done nearly to perfection (around $USD15 per person).

Useful information
- Oficina de Informes Turisticos (found at the intersection of Avenida San Martin and Juan Manuel de Rosas, opened every day from 8h to 21h).
- Centro de Visitantes del Parque Nacional Lanin (Emilio Frey 749, opened every day from 8h to 18h and only Monday to Friday from 8h to 17h during winter): Information including activities, map and timetables.

El Bolsón

130km south of Bariloche and 180km north of Esquel, El Bolsón is at the frontier of the provinces of Rio Negro and Chubut. The stunning road to El Bolsón runs along the Gutiérrez and Mascardi lakes before taking a plunging valley bordered by forests. The city is surrounded by two great mountains, the Cerros Nevado and Piltriquitón, and occupies a fertile valley intersected by the river Quemquemtreu meaning, "Rock that rolls" in Mapuche language. El Bolsón holds the fiesta del Lupulo during the first days of March, as the town is well known for its delicious artisanal beers. Tourism has gentrified the not so appealing town of El Bolsón, which offers numerous restaurants and accommodations.

Activities

Within the city
Jazz Festival: Concert with international artists lasting 2 to 3 days in February (check dates on http://www.patagonia.com.ar).
La Feria Regional Artesanal de El Bolson: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10h to 17h on the Plaza Pagano you will find the town's famous artisanal market.

Around the city
Hiking: The one-day hike to the top of Cerro Piltriquitrón (the second part of the hike, after the refuge, is for experienced hikers) will take you through the Bosque Tallado, where various artists have sculpted the tree trunks. Hikes around the Cabeza del Indio, the Mirador del Azul or even around the town of Lago Puelo (20km south of El Bolsón, USD$8 for transport)

Museo Leleque (USD$1, opened every day except Wednesday from 11h to 19h but only until 17h from march to December): On the Ruta 40 (km 1841), the Museo Leleque explores the lives of Indigenous population living in Argentina before the Spanish arrival as well as the military conquest of the XIX century and the European and Middle-East immigration to this land. The museum is found in an old refurbished shop and you can still enjoy some drinks and empanadas in the old bar, now used as a coffee shop, at the end of your visit.

Where to eat

La Gorda (25 de Mayo, 2709): Do not miss the finest restaurant in town, where the food is copious, the service is impeccable and the chef is experienced and creative. While there is mostly meat on the menu, there are also a few good vegetarian options and a couple of Asian dishes. Booking is highly recommended, especially if you want to seat in the garden (around USD$18 per person).

Patio Venzano (Sarmiento, 2250): A great parilla and pasta restaurant. You can opt for a table on the terrace if it is a sunny day (around USD$18 per person).

Jauja (San Martin, 2867): The ice-cream shop offers a huge variety of flavours, from the most common to completely extravagant flavours (around USD$5).

Pizza Uno (at the intersection between Dorrego and Perito Moreno): Enjoy your favorite kind of pizza at Pizza Uno. Big, small, medium, cheesy, meaty, you name it! (under USD$15 per person)

Useful information

- Oficina de Informes Turisticos (found at the intersection of San Martin and Roca, opened every day from 8h to 22h and 20h during low season): http://turismoelbolson.gob.ar

Esquel

At the end of the XIX century, the descendants of the first Welsh immigrants of the Atlantic coast left to find land that was less arid near the Andes and founded the city of Esquel. The city reminds us of its past with small houses made of red bricks on cropped lawns and the Welsh Celebration on the 28th of July to commemorate the arrival of the immigrants. Whichever way you decide to look, you will be able to see a hill and a mountain from the valley, covered by snow in winter and particularly green in summer. There is not much to do in the city but it is a perfect starting point for the hikes in the nearby mountains and especially in the Parque de los Alerces, situated an hour away by car.

Activities

Within the city
La Trochita train (USD$23 and free under 5 year old, 2h45 excursion): http://latrochita.org.ar. From mid-December to mid-March as well as during the school holidays of July, the train leaves every day at 10h and 14h and only Saturday at 10h during the rest of the year. The steam locomotive will take you on a 20km excursion to the Mapuche Community of Nahuel Pan, with a 40 min break to enjoy the Nahuel pan museum.

Hikes: Sendero Canadón de Borquez (only walking allowed, medium difficulty, 3 km, 2h30), Sendero a la Cruz por Barrio Ceferino (walking, motorcycling, mountain bike, horse are allowed, medium difficulty, 12km return trip, around 3h30), Sendero a la Cruz por Barrio Badén (walking, motorcycling, mountain bike, horse are allowed, medium difficulty, 10km return trip, around 3h), Sendero a la Zeta por el Arenal (walking, mountain bike, horse are allowed, medium difficulty, 7km return trip, around 3h), Sendero Las Mutisias (only walking and horseback riding are allowed, medium difficulty, 4 km, around 2h), Sendero de la Patagonia Donde Nace la Esperanza (walking, horse and mountain bike are allowed, medium difficulty, 3.5km, around 2h)

Around the city
Cerro La Hoya: Ski Station 13km away from Esquel with about 20 slopes. During warmer seasons, it is possible to admire the landscape from the ski lift. A hosteria, El Refugio de la Montana is opened during ski season only as well as a bar, which is opened in summer and during July-August, every day from 10h to 17h.

Trevelin: 25km south of Esquel on the Ruta 259, the small town is known for being in the middle of the numerous frontier delimitation conflicts between Chile and Argentina. In 1902, Trevelin was attached to Argentina by a referendum. You may enjoy the famous Museo Regional de Molino Andes, found in the windmill, which was initially built in 1922 and then destroyed by a fire to be now refurbished as a museum ($80, opened every day from 11h to 20h30 and 12h to 18h in low season). If you pass by Trevelin, you can also visit the Tumba de Malacara (USD$2 and free for under 12 years old, opened everyday from 10h to 12h30 and 15h to 17h or 20h during summer), the grave of a horse who saved his master.

Parque Nacional Los Alerces (Access to the park is every day from 8h to 21h - USD$7 park entry fee valid for 2 days, if you do not exit the park you may stay as many days as you want - free for under 16 year old and above 65 year old - Transport from Esquel USD$35 return trip): Possible activities include hiking (many trails of different length and difficulty, do not forget to register for some hikes), canoe-kayak, cycling, fishing and horseback riding. Excursions to the Glaciar Torrecillas (USD$98 plus park entry fee, small excursion of 10 people, 3h of navigation and 3h of hiking) and to the Bosque de los Alerces (USD$46 plus park entry fee, one excursion a day of about 6h) are organised all year long by Glaxiar and can be booked in one of Esquel's travel agency.

Where to eat

Don Chiquino (Ameghino, 1641): A charming and joyful restaurant where you will eat in the middle of an organised hotchpotch of objects and old collectors. On the menu, a variety of freshly-made pasta and meat (USD$20 per person).

La Luna (Fontana, 656): Enjoy a copious steak and fries or a tasty vegetable crepe in what seems to be a Welsh pub in Patagonia (USD$15 per person).

Quillen (Fontana, 769): This restaurant serves light vegan and vegetarian dishes. You will also find organic pizza and pastas for those with a bigger appetite (USD$15 per person).

Maria Castana (at the intersection between 25 de Mayo and Rivadavia): Perfect for a midday snack or breakfast! The coffee shop serves delicious dulce de leche waffles, sandwiches and ice-cream sundaes (USD$5 per person).

Useful information

- Oficina de Informes Turisticos (found at the intersection of Alvear and Sarmiento, opened every day from 8h to 22h all year long): http://esquel.tur.ar
- Centro de Visitantes Parque Nacional Los Alerces (Found in Villa Futalaufquen, opened every day from 9h to 16h and 8h to 21h in January and February): https://www.parquesnacionales.gob.ar

Northeast Patagonia

Trelew

Trelew comes from welsh tre, village, and Lew, diminutive of Lewis, the founder of the city. During the XIX century, Argentineans gave 25 hectares of land to each family of Welsh immigrants to prevent Chileans to occupy the region. The thriving city of Trelew has kept its story and authenticity but is not a destination for a long stopover. It is the most important city of the region but Puerto Madryn being closer to the peninsula Valdés attracts more tourists. While no one comes to Patagonia to admire architectural or cultural diversity, the nature is particularly wild and spectacular in this part of the world. We find an especially abundant aquatic fauna along the coastline.

Activities

Within the city
Centro Histórico: Walk around the historic centre of Trelew around Fontana and San Martin.

Museo Paleontológico (USD$6, opened every day from 9h to 19h from mid-September to March and the rest of the year opened Monday to Tuesday 9h to 18h and weekends from 10h to 19h): Discover the geological history of Patagonia.

Museo Regional Pueblo de Luis (USD$1, Monday to Friday opened from 8h until 20h and opened from 14h until 20h on weekends): Found in the old railroad station, the small museum retraces the region's history.

Around the city
Playa Unión: The immense beach found 22 km southeast of Trelew is enjoyed by Argentines during summer. Boat excursions leave from Playa Unión to observe

Punta Tombo and Gaiman: Gaiman is a small town 17km west of Trelew on the Ruta 25 and is found on the edge of the rio Chubut, which are particularly green and flowery. A few casas de té remind us of the welsh origin of the town (no less than USD$6/person). If you decide to wander around Gaiman for an afternoon, you can also appreciate a few historic buildings such as the town's first school and first house, build in 1874 on a street named Juan Evans. Also, the old train station of the town is now the Museo Galés (opened from 15h to 19h30 every day), where you can see a few photos about the Welsh colonisation of this area. The Punta Tombo reserve is situated further down, at 120km south of Trelew and 180km south of Puerto Madryn, and is accessible by car (2h30 from Puerto Madryn on a road of good condition) or with an organised excursion booked in an agency in Trelew or Puerto Madryn. The reserve, known for its enormous penguin colony that arrived for an unknown reason in 1820 and since then come every year, is opened from mid-September to mid-April every day from 8h to 18h (USD$10 entry fee to the park, reduced entry fee for under 16 years old and free under 6 years old). A snack bar is available at the entrance of the reserve and a shuttle will bring you from there inside the reserve. You should count about an hour to walk around the authorised trail in the reserve.

Where to eat

Trattoria Miguel Angel (Fontana, 246): Yummy!

Sugar (25 de Mayo, 247): A great option for those who need a break from the same-old Argentinean dishes. Quinoa milanesas, herbed fish, stir-fried beef, fresh juices, salads and grilled vegetables are on the menu (USD$12 per person).

Tia Camilla (25 de Mayo, 951): Simple, yet tasteful food is served at Tia Camilla for a great price and in generous portions. You can also ask for take-away (USD$5 per person).

Majadero: Found in a 1914 flour mill, the Majadero is a romantic restaurant considered as the nicest restaurant setting in town. Classic Argentine food is served. It is recommended to book a table on weekends (USD$15 per person).

Useful information

- Oficina de Informes Turisticos (Mitre 387, opened Monday to Friday from 8h to 20h and on weekends from 9h to 21h): There is also a Tourist Office inside the airport and the bus station.

Puerto Madryn

Founded in 1865 by Sir Jones Parry de Madryn, Puerto Madryn is now clear of all Celtic influences. While some may prefer the nature and charms of Puerto Piramides to accommodate, the small beach resort offers a stroll along the seaside, numerous hotels and souvenir shops and is probably the liveliest city of oceanic Patagonia. It forms a nice starting point to go visit the Peninsula Valdés and the rest of the region. For whales' lovers, September, October and November are the best months even though it is still possible to see some from end of June to end of December.

Activities

Within the city
Museo del Desembarco (USD$1 entry fee, opened everyday except Tuesday from 9h to 13h and 15h to 20h from December to February and from 15h to 19h from March to November): The museum looks at the history of the first Welsh colonies in Patagonia.

Ecocentro: (USD$7 entry fee, found at Julio Verne 3784, opened everyday except Tuesday from 15 to 19h, as well as Monday during March and April, opened from 17h to 21h during January and February): Simple explications, translated in English, about the local fauna in a very modern and well made exhibition useful before going on an excursion to Peninsula Valdes or Punta Tombo. Other temporary exhibitions are also presented and do not forget to admire the beautiful viewpoint on the Golfo Nuevo from the bar's terrace or from the museum's library.

Museo provincial del Hombre y del Mar (USD$1 entry fee, free on Tuesday and for under 12 years old, opened every day except Sunday from 9h to 20h or 19h from March to November and on Saturday from 15h to 20h or 19h from March to November): The museum looks at the current human threat to the environment.

Sport Activities: VTT with Na Praia around the seaside (circuits of different levels, from 17 to 40km long on marked trails), horseback riding with Antonio Pereyra at the equestrian centre 4km south of Puerto Madryn, scuba diving, windsurf and canoe kayak with Napra Club or Scuba Duba.

Around the city
Punta Tombo: Mentioned previously in Trelew's activities around the city.

El Doradillo: A beautiful beach during summer, found 19km north of Puerto Madryn. From mid-June to mid-December, whales tend to swim very to the shore at low tide and during September and October, you can have a few glimpse at their calves.

Punta Flecha and Punta Loma: From Punta Flecha, 10km north of Puerto Madryn, you can observe and hear the whales singing. Punta Loma (USD$4 park entry fee) is a colony of sea lions found 17km southeast of Puerto Madryn, opened every day from 8h to 20h. However, if you wish to discover the local aquatic fauna we recommend you to go to the Péninsula Valdés.

Where to eat

El Almendro (at the intersection between Alvear and 9 de Julio): This family-run restaurant is one of the best addresses in town. Attentive service, great wine list and charming and elegant setting (around USD$18 per person).

El Bodegon (25 de Mayo, 411): Classic Argentinean food served in an intimate cafe with brick walls and small tables (around USD$18 per person).

Una Mesa (Belgrano, 346): An interesting little restaurant run by a young couple, who also offer cooking classes with Chef Juan and pastry Chef Julia. An intimate dining experience with fresh ingredients, original dishes and exquisite desserts (around USD$25 per person).

Mariscos del Atlantico (Fennen, 43): This delicious restaurant is ran by a fisherman family.
There is no surprise, fresh fish and seafood is found on the menu. Many locals come to eat at Mariscos del Atlantico regularly. The setting is simple but the food is exquisite for seafood lovers (around USD$18 per person).

Where to sleep

The Best Hostels in Puerto Madryn and Peninsula Valdes, Argentina

Useful information

- Oficina de Informes Turisticos (Roca 223, opened every day from 8h to 21h): http://www.madryn.gov.ar/turismo/

Peninsula Valdés

Map

The nature reserve designated at the UNESCO World Heritage is 97 km long and 63 km wide connected to the continent by an isthmus of 35km from which we can see both gulfs, San José at north and the Nuevo at south. Its name comes from the naval minister who supported the expedition, which led to its discovery. A complete tour of the peninsula is about 250km on a dirt road. It will take you through the wild landscapes of the pampa, where you will find our dear ostriches' cousins, choiques or nandus, as well as guanacos, cousins of llamas. Other animals such as vizcachas, related to hares and zorros, a type of fox as well as marine animals such as sea lions and sea elephants can be seen in abundance all along the pampa and the edge of the peninsula. From the beach and the boats you will be able to see whales, dolphins, killer whales (more rare) and many types of birds including cormorants. From the boat, we also understand that the village was named after the triangle shaped cliff, elevated to about one hundred meters. Beware of the sun during your stay in Patagonia, as the ozone layer is extremely thin there.

The only village in the peninsula is Puerto Piramides. The village is not particularly charming but its setting is particularly beautiful and its well-sheltered beach is perfect for a swim in summer (austral, preferably January-February). If you wish to visit the Peninsula Valdés for a few days, Puerto Piramides and its relaxed atmosphere is the perfect place to stay.

Activities

Whales watching boat excursion (USD$37): Many agencies in the town, including Bottazzi, Southern Spirit and Whales Argentina offer an incredible 1h30 excursion in the Golfo Nuevo to observe whales. For adventure seekers, another amazing way to see the whales and sea lions instead of going on the traditional excursion boat is by going on a Kayak with a very friendly guide, Pablo (USD$60 for 3h). He will take you on a beautiful journey, answer any question you may have and offer you a warm tea and biscuits in the Kaya during a small stopover in a cove. All the equipment will be provided. It is recommended to book your Kayak trip in advance. All information is available on the website http://www.patagoniaexplorers.com/sea-kayaking/contactenos.php)

Playa del Molino: Beautiful walk on the 3km long beach.

Punta Norte: The largest colony of sea lions and sea elephants, found 50km after Caleta Valdes and opened every day from 8h to 20h. You will have a stunning panoramic viewpoint on the colony and will be able to get a little closer to the beach with a trail, which does not allow you to reach the beach. A free telescope is available to see the animals as if you were right next to them. Around March and April, at rising tide, you may see the tail of a killer whale or one chasing a baby sea lion. A small café and bathrooms are available on the site (opened from 9h to 19h).

Punta Cantor and the Caleta Valdés: From Punta Cantor, you can see the long strip of land covered in pebbles, which comes out of the peninsula and is named caleta. If you continue further north, you will get to the small colony of penguins on the Caleta Valdés.

Where to eat

La Estacion (in front of the gas station): The cute and cosy chalet decorated in the 70's theme is one of the most animated place on the Peninsula. Opt for the pasta rather than the pizzas (USD$15 per person).

La Covacha (on the left of the main street going towards the beach): A restaurant perfect for a lunch break or a snack outside on the sunny terrace or in the cosy fisherman's shack (USD$10 per person).

Guanaco (avenida de las ballenas): Delicious seafood and artisanal beer is served in this little restaurant and its veranda. Service is friendly, attentive and welcoming (USD$15 per person).

Useful information

- USD$15 entry fee and additional USD$1 for each vehicle
- peninsulavaldes.org.ar
- The best time of the years to see sea lions and sea elephants is between August and March, to see whales is between July and December, to see penguins is between September and April and even though it is very rare to see killer whales all year long, it can be possible between. February to April
- Centro de Interpretación: On the road towards Puerto Piramides, the Centro de Interpretación is opened every day from 8h to 21h or 20h during winter and offers information on the Peninsula Valdés.
- Oficina de Informes Turisticos (Puerto Piramides, open everyday from 10h to 18h): www.puertopiramides.gov.ar

Southern Patagonia

Rio Gallegos

The city holds the name of the captain of the boat that transported Magellan. Rio Gallegos is an important agricultural centre, specialised in sheep farms and has a very active harbour from which charcoal and oil extracted in the region is transported. Rio Gallegos is also a military base that played an important role as a rear base during the Falklands Conflict in 1982 and a city that gave two presidents to Argentina, Cristina Kirchner and her husband Néstor, hence their nickname pinguinos. The capital of the region of Santa Cruz is not particularly interesting and should only be a connection stop, to catch a bus towards Ushuaia, El Calafate or even towards Chile (two roads, one to Punta Arenas and the other to Puerto Natales). If you are not able to avoid spending a night there, your day can be filled with a few museums and a nice walk along the estuary of rio gallegos.

Activities

Within the city
Museo Los Pioneros (free entry, opened everyday from 10h to 14h and from 16h to 20h): A reconstruction of a pioneer's house, made in a small house built of wood, full of small objects from that time period.

Reserva Costera Urbana: A bird reserve situated on the edge of Rio Chico's estuary, south of the city.

Around the city
Laguna Azul: Via Ruta 3, you can access a stunning lagoon, known for its spectacular blue colour, placed in an old caldera, 63 km south of Rio Gallegos.

Cabo Virgines: The immense colony of penguins of Cabo Virgines (October to April) is found 135km south of Rio Gallegos. It is possible to stay a few nights in a ranch, such as Monte Dinero, near Cabo Virgines, which offer a great variety of activities in the area, including horseback riding.

Where to eat

La Lechuza (Sarmiento, 134): A chic low-lit pizzeria and restaurant decorated with old newspapers and wine crates. The restaurant first found success in El Calafate but is now considered as the most ambient eatery in town (USD$10 per person).

Fabrica de Sandwiches (Zapiola): Customized sandwiches prepared before your eyes. Perfect for a quick lunch to take-away (USD$10 per person).

Restaurante Circulo Policia (Loqui, 73): As its name indicates, this is the local police restaurant, where everyone else is invited. Generous portions for a reasonable price (USD$10 per person).

Don Bartolo (Sarmiento, 124): Pizza, fresh pasta, parillas, and other Argentinean classics are served at Don Bartolo, in a nice, ventilated room. Friendly service (USD$10 per person).

Mostaza (Alberdi, 9400): A modern fast food serving classics for a decent price (USD$5 per person).

Useful information

- Centro de Turismo (Bus terminal or Avenida Beccar 126)

El Calafate

In the heart of a grassy pampa, 80km away from El Perito Moreno, at the foot of the Andes Mountains and by the Lago Argentino, El Calafate is the city from which we leave to visit the Parque Nacional los Glaciares. El Calafate has its name from a bush with yellow flowers and black berries (resembling blueberries), commonly found in the region (excellent Calafate jams can be brought in the city). El Calafate has incredibly grown from a humble village of pioneers surrounded by flat fields to a touristic city, with an airport created in 2001. Like every new city in Patagonia, El Calafate has a horizontal shape, follows a grid plan and has low constructions, usually made of wood. You will find some nice restaurants and bars with a relaxed ambiance, where you can easily exchange recommendations with locals and other travellers. The weather varies a lot in this region. Make sure to have a good windbreaker and a cover for your backpack if you are travelling in winter, when the temperature is easily under 0°C but also during summer as sudden gusts of wind can break the enjoyable temperature of around 20°C. It is also worth knowing that it rains three times less in El Calafate than it does at the Perito Moreno glacier. For a long time, the city has been deserted from April to September but local authorities have decided to develop winter tourism. If you do not mind the cold or if you prefer off-season travelling with few tourists, most hotels and activities such as Perito Moreno, Upsala remain open during this period of the year.

Activities

Within the city
Moreno Glacier
Reserva Ecologica Municipal Laguna Nimez (USD$6 entry fee, opened every day from 7h to 19h during spring and summer and from 9h30 to 18h30 in autumn and winter): Beautiful bird reserve found 800m away from the town, near the Lago Argentino, where you might see a few pink flamingos. The tour of the bird reserve takes about 1h30. We recommend that you borrow binoculars from the reception.

Centro de Interpretación Histórica (USD$7 entry fee, opened everyday from 10h to 20h from September to April and from 11h to 17h from Mai to August): The small museum recounts the geological and anthropological evolution of Patagonia from 14 000 years ago to nowadays.

Around the city
Museo del Hielo Patagónico Glaciarium (entry fee USD$17 and USD$14 for students is you have your ID, opened every day from 9h to 20h during October to April and from 11h to 19h during Mai to September): Found 5km away from the city centre, the museum is accessible with a free shuttle, leaving every hour from the car park at the angle of Libertador and 1 de Mayo. The museum offers valuable information on the glaciers of Patagonia in an interactive way as well as a beautiful view on the Lago Argentino from the top of its hill. We recommend that you visit the Glaciarium before going on your adventures to the Perito Moreno and other glaciers of the region.

Punta Walichu (USD$9 entry fee and USD$4 for under 12 years old): Found 7km away from El Calafate, right before the airport, the famous caves can be visited through an agency that will provide transport. However, this being very expensive, we recommend that you go by car or bike (very steep!). The caves can only be visited with a guided tour, available twice a day, which need to be pre-booked. Do not prioritize this excursion as only a few original drawings are left.

Parque Nacional Los Glaciares
Click for large view
Perito Moreno (USD$29 park entry fee): The Perito Moreno Glacier is named after the explorer of the XIX century, Francesco Moreno, who in fact never saw the glacier. Francesco Moreno has also given its name to the Perito Moreno town and the Perito Moreno Park, which are found 400km north of the glacier. We recommend that you prioritize an excursion to the Perito Moreno glacier, as it is one of the most spectacular glaciers of the country and easiest of access. The most economical and perhaps also the best way to explore the glacier is to go by foot. There is a bus leaving from El Calafate Bus Terminal in the morning and in the afternoon (USD$26 return trip), which will take you back to the town 4h after dropping you at the glacier. If you are travelling by car, you will only have to pay the park entry fee. In both cases, you can start walking from the car park towards the glacier on footbridges that will continue all the way to the hill situated directly in front of the glacier. You will have one of the most spectacular views of the 14km long, 4 km large and 50 to 60m taller than the lake, glacier. On the hill, the footbridges will allow you to walk around different paths and get diverse views of the Perito Moreno. There is a restaurant and bathrooms in the car park. Do not forget to bring along sun protection as well as windproof jackets. You may also decide to go on a boat excursion (USD$14, free for children under 4 years old) with Hielo y Aventura. The excursion will last an hour and take you along the glacier (not closer than 300m for security reasons). Reservation is recommended during high season. The boat will leave about 5 times a day from 10h to 15h and only twice a day during low season. The trip will give you a different view of the spectacular blue wall and allow you to be at the heart of the action when a piece of ice falls down. However this extra cost to the transport and park entry fee can is not indispensable. Another possible excursion to the Perito Moreno would be the MiniTrekking, once again with Hielo y Aventura, which will take you on a 2h walk on the glacier, accessible to everybody (children from 10 years old). A beautiful experience, if you have the means (USD$184 for the transport and excursion plus USD$29 park entry fee). Every agency in town sells the same excursions for the same prices. We advise you to book your excursion at least a day before. After taking the bus to the lake, a small boat will bring you on the other side of the lake, where you will walk around a forest to arrive at the foot of the glacier. Here, you will be given studs to put under your shoes (walking shoes or sneakers are recommended). In a small group and with a guide, you will walk on top of the ice and discover the shining blue crevasses and caves of the Perito Moreno. Do not forget to bring a picnic and sun protection! The MiniTrekking is available all year long except in June and July. From mid-September to end of April, you can also enjoy the Big Ice excursion, which demands that you have a good physical condition, as it will bring you on a 12h journey (3h walk in the forest and 4h on the ice), including transports. The excursion costs between USD$265 and USD$355, depending on the season and if you wish to include transport. The USD$29 park entry fee is not included.

Upsala Glacier (USD$29 park entry fee): The glacier is one of the biggest of the southern hemisphere and has been given the name of the boat used for the Swedish expedition of the University of Uppsala, which sailed these waters at the beginning of the XX century. A full day boat excursion will usually leave at 8h30 from Punta Bandera and come back at 17h30, with a 20min stop at the Upsala glacier as well as a 20 min stop at the Spegazzini glacier. Do not forget to bring binoculars if you can, as the boat will not always get very close to the ice. This trip is available from September to April with different agencies such as Estancia Cristina. They offer excursions from USD$75 to USD$144 depending on the chosen excursion and the season. The USD$29 park entry fee, picnic and transport to Puerto Bandera are not included in this price. Another agency, Marpatag proposes excursions from USD$150 to USD$200 depending on the chosen excursion and the season, with lunch as well as transfer from El Calafate to Punta Bandera included but USD$29 park entry fee is not included. Other than the traditional boat excursion, these agencies also offer a trip in a 4x4 or by foot to the mirador of the Upsala glacier. Puerto Punta Bandera, situated 50km away from El Calafate (about 1h by car) is where any excursion to the Upsala Glacier begins and where the park entry fee has to be paid. Sometimes, when massive amounts of ice fall down, the canal leading to the Upsala Glacier is blocked, which reduces the interest of this excursion. However, travel agencies tend to not inform customers when this happens. It is important to ask for information on site before booking any excursion.

Lago Roca: If you are travelling by car, we recommend this trip to the Lago Roca. You can leave for half a day, follow the road to the Perito Moreno for 35 km and turn left to drive 30km on track. Along the road, you will encounter herds of sheep and horses as well as raptors waiting for a car to hit a hare or other animals. Between the green plains, the blue lake, the white mountains, you will even be able to catch sight of the beautiful Perito Moreno. A bus also leaves from El Calafate 2 to 3 times a week during low season and every day during high season.

Where to eat and drink
Viva la Pepa (Emilio Abado, 833): A cheerful cafe serving savory and sweet crepes. Portions are copious and staff is friendly. The dulce de leche crepe is a must! Whether you decide to eat inside the colourful room decorated with amusing children's drawings or in the small garden during summer, the restaurant is charming (around USD$10).

Pura Vida (Libertador, 1876): Great adresse for vegetarians (veggie lasagne and wok, salads and carbonada de calabaza) as well as meat eaters (chicken pot pies and lamb). Plates are very copious so don't feel embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag. Delicious homemade bread is served to accompany your meal and if you have space, you may treat yourself to the delicious chocolate brownie with ice-cream and warm berry sauce (above USD$20). It is best to book a table in advance.

Mi Rancho (at the intersection between Moyano and 9 de Julio): While this family-run restaurant is welcoming and intimate, it is also extremely popular in Calafate and should be booked in advance to be secured a table. The restaurant is found in one of the first houses to be build in town. Food is copious and delicious and service is friendly and efficient. While you will find pizza and pasta on the menu (like most restaurants in Argentina), we recommend the trout or the lamb risotto (above USD$20).

El Cucharón (9 de Julio, 145): The perfect place to try some of the traditional dishes of Argentina with a touch of originality. The cazuela de cordero (lamb stew), ahumado de lomo (smoked beef) and limón trucha con verduras (trout with lemon sauce and grilled vegetables) are delicious (around USD$30).

La Tablita (Coronel Rosales, 28): One of the best restaurant in town, known for its copious asado. An elegant room, simply decorated with white tablecloths. The tender meat is cooked in a wood-fired oven and accompanied with garlic fries or a fresh salad (around USD$30).

La Lechuza (Libertador San Martin, 1301): A popular restaurant for good reasons, the food is nourishing, copious and at good prices (around USD$10). The cosy restaurant serves tasty Argentinean favorites, such as empanadas and pizzas. La Lechuzita, its sister restaurant is found across the road and serves hot dishes and salads.

La Zaina (Gobernador Gregores, 1057): A cute restaurant found in old rustic stables, with wooden tables and a small garden. A charming place, where you can taste delicious cocktails and tasty food, such as chicken cooked in citrus fruits and its mashed pumpkin (around USD$20).

Panaderia Don Luis (9 de Julio, 265): Typical Argentine bakery. Perfect if you still haven't tried their facturas, and especially the medialunas filled with dulce de leche.

Maria Brownies (Libertador San Martin, 524): A cute teahouse for a sweet treat. Their homemade brownies and lemon tart is a must! (around USD$4).

Where to sleep

Camping
El Ovejero (José Pantin, 64): Suitable for tents, trailers and RV and possibility to sleep in a dormitory in the hostel. Old sanitary facilities. Usually full and animated with events, barbecues, and dancing on folkloric music at night!

Hostels
Hostel America del Sur (Puerto Deseado 153, from USD$10 to USD$25 for a bed in a dormitory of 4 depending on the season, from USD$90 to USD$125 for a bedroom for 2 or 3, breakfast and wifi included): A big hostel found on the top of a small hill, with a view on the Lago Argentino. Young ambiance, clean facilities and friendly as well as helpful staff!

Calafate Hostel (Gobernador Moyano, 1226, USD$17 for a bed in a dormitory for 6, USD$22 for a bed in a dormitory and private bathroom for 4, from USD$62 to USD$84 for a private bedroom and bathroom for 2 to 4 depending on the size, USD$100 for an apartment for 4, breakfast and wifi included): The hostel offers plenty of different types of rooms, perfect to suit everyone's budget. While the kitchen can be a bit small for the size of the hostel, the living room is spacious and cosy. The Hostel offers excursions and good advice for your stay in El Calafate.

Hostel del Glaciar Libertador (Libertador, 587, from USD$20 to USD$25 for a bed in a dormitory of 4 to 7, from USD$70 to USD$110 for a bedroom for 2 or 3, breakfast and wifi included): Simple but comfortable hostel with a nice common room, great for new encounters! The reception will provide you with any kind of help you need and offer to book your excursions.

Schilling Hostel Patagonico (Gobernador Paradelo, 141, from USD$15 to USD$25 for a bed in a dormitory, from USD$45 to USD$80 for a bedroom for 2 or 3, breakfast and wifi included): A reliable and comfortable place to stay in El Calafate. The hostel is conveniently located in the center of the city. Each room is heated and has a private bathroom.

I Keu Ken Hostel (F.M. Pontoreiero, 171, USD$20 for a bed in a dormitory for 4, USD$56 for a bungalow for 2, wifi and breakfast included): One of the most popular hostels in El Calafate. Very close to the city center. Typical Patagonian breakfast is served. Young, friendly and welcoming staff, ready to help you with whatever you need! Great view on the Lago Argentino and The Andes.

Hotels
La Cantera (calle 306, 173, USD$150 and up, free breakfast): About 20 rooms, decorated in green and orange inspired by the Argentinean gaucho culture. Found a little far away from the center. Good restaurant within the hostel and impressive view on the city and its lake.

Madre Tierra (9 de Julio, 239, USD$125/night): A small boutique hotel of about 6 bedrooms runned by a young couple. Every piece of furniture is for sales!

Useful information

- Secreteria de Turismo (found at the intersection of Rosales and Libertador, opened every day from 8h to 20h): There is also one in the Bus Terminal found at Julio A. Roca 1004
- Oficina de informes del Parque Nacional (libertador 1302, opens at 8h from Monday to Friday until 20h and from 9h to 20h on weekends during December to February and opened from 8h to 19h the rest of the year): http://www.losglaciares.com/es/parque/index.html
- Travel Agencies (found on Libertador): Caltur, Taqsa and Chaltén Travel offer great excursions and interesting prices. Hielo y Aventura is the only agency that organises Mini Trekkings on the Perito Moreno glacier. Cabalgata en Patagonia as well as Cabalgata del Glaciar proposes horseback riding excursions.
- Entry fee to the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is USD$19 and free under 16 years old, valid for 1 day. The park opens from 8h to 21h in summer and from 8h to 18h during winter. If you want to enjoy the park (nearly) all for yourself, we recommend that you go there later during the day as many excursions leave early in the morning and come back at 16h. The last bus will leave at 19h and if you come with your car, the park is opened until 21h during summer and it will not be dark yet. It is also best to bring a sandwich as the restaurant on site is expensive.

El Chaltén

Click for large view
El Chaltén is probably one of the most beautiful areas of Patagonia, especially at the slightest ray of sunshine. To get to the small village, in the heart of the Andes and at the foot of the Fitz Roy, you will go through an arid steppe, populated by a few guanacos and nandous and forming a beautiful contrast with the mountains covered in snow in the background. Unlike the tourists of El Calafate, travellers who go to El Chaltén are mostly hiking lovers and mountaineers, as the city is the starting point to many excursions around the Fitz Roy (3 441m) and the cerro Torre (3 138m). The Indians used to call the Fitz Roy, Chaltén (Volcano) because its peaks often hidden in thick clouds remind us of a volcanic eruption. Here and then, when the sky is cloudless, it is possible to see the peaks appear suddenly from the horizon. It is not recommended to do a return trip in a day, as the small village has little appeal but its surroundings are splendid. Travellers come here for hiking essentially. For the beginners, it will be long hikes in a magical setting and for the experts perhaps a weeklong expedition to the greatest glaciers of the world.

Activities

Hikes departing from the Centro de Visitantes del Parque Nacional
Loma del Pliegue Tumbado (Level: Medium / Time: 8h return trip): One of the most beautiful views of the region, with a spectacular view at 1490 m of altitude on the Viedma Lake, El Chaltén's valley, the Grande Glaciar throwing itself in the Laguna Torre and the Fitz Roy.

Laguna Toro (Level: High / Time: 7h to ascent): There is an authorised camping site there. You need to register at the Centro de Visitantes del Parque Nacional before leaving.

Los Condores and Las aguilas (Level: Easy / Time: 2h return trip): Panoramic view on El Chaltén as well as on the Viedma Lake and the surrounding steppe.

Hikes departing north of El Chaltén
Mt. Fitz Roy
Chorrillo del Salto waterfalls (Level: Easy/ Time: 1h30 return trip)

Laguna Capri (Level: Medium / Time: 3h-4h return trip): Viewpoints on the Fitz Roy. Diverse varieties of ducks are found around the lagoon during summer. You may continue your hike towards the Laguna de Los Tres (Level: High / Time: 8h-9h return trip). You may decide to stop for the night at the free camping site Poincenot or Rio Blanco. You can also take a shuttle or your car to the Hosteria El Pilar from which you can reach the Poincenot camping more easily and quickly. You can then go up to the Laguna de Los Tres, and perhaps go back down by the original path if you wish to see a different panorama on the way back.

Hikes departing from the center of El Chaltén
Laguna Torre (Level: Medium / Time: 6h-7h return trip): Campamento de Agostini is a free camping site available near the Laguna Torre. For those in good physical condition, you can climb another 2 km (about 1h) to reach the Mirador Maestri.

Around the city
Boat excursion on the Viedma glacier (USD$37 plus transport fee): Patagonia Aventura offers 1 to 2 excursions per day from October to April, departing from Bahia Tunel, about 18km away from El Chaltén. While it is not as imposing as the Perito Moreno, the 30min navigation on the Viedma Lake towards the 40m tall glacier remains spectacular.

Lago del Desierto (USD$20 to USD$30 depending on the season): Las Lengas and Zona Austral buses leave 1 to 3 times a day from October to March to the Lago del Desierto. After a 1h30 journey on a track 37km away from El Chaltén, you will be able to stay 2h or 4h30 at the Lago del Desierto until you can take the bus back to El Chaltén. From there, you can reach the Laguna del Huemul (entry fee), situated south of the lake. From October to March, a boat crosses the lake in 45min, from south to north, three times a day. Because you are very close to the Chilean border, you may decide to walk another 6h to reach the Lago O'Higgins and stay at the Candelario Mansilla Estancia for the night. You can finally reach Villa O'Higgins by boat (leaves 1 to 4 times a week between December and March only).

Climbing: El Chaltén's travel agencies offer climbing on ice excursions with experimented guides, on the Torre glacier as well as the Viedma glacier. You can also ask the agencies about their rock wall climbing excursions.

Estancia: To discover the way people live in the pampa, you may decide to stay at an Estancia. In the stunning Estancia Santa Thelma, about 300km away from El Chaltén, you will be able to explore the surroundings by horse, live a unique experience in the middle of the nature and its vast plains occupied by thousands of merino sheep and horses and of course eat a typical meal of the region.

Where to eat and drink

Techado Negro (at the intersection of Rojo and Riquelme): Delicious home-cooked food in a brightly coloured and slightly tumbled down restaurant (around USD$10). Great vegetarian food and generous as well as economical menu of the day!

La Tapera (Rojo, 74): Great to nibble on tapas or to try typical local dishes such as locro, cazuelas and the famous Argentinean meat, in a rustic setting around a fire pit (around USD$15).

Wafleria (San Martin, 640): The restaurant offers a wide variety of savory and sweet waffles. A perfect treat after a day of hiking or a great escape from a stormy weather, which remains however a little overpriced (around USD$8).

La Estepa (at the intersection of Cerro Solo and Rojo): Good food and excellent wine in a slightly more upmarket restaurant. Reasonable prices for a creative menu in the evening (above USD$15). For lunch, you will find more classic dishes (pasta, pizza, salads, sandwiches).

Patagonicus (at the intersection of Guemes and Madsen): Covered in old photos of climbers in El Chalten, the Patagonicus offers the best pizza in town (around USD$12). The deserts, and especially the dulce de leche crepe, are worth trying.

Where to sleep

Camping
There are many allowed camping sites found on the hiking trails. Ask for a map at the Centro de Visitantes del Parque Nacional.

El Relincho (San Martin, opened from october to april, from USD$7): Very well-equipped camping site with the motto "Here there is no wifi but you can talk among each other!". Clean bathroom, barbecue, common room and kitchen available as well as cabanas, ideal for families who prefer to have their own kitchen, bathroom and living room. The establishment offers horseback riding for all, including those who do not have any experience with horses. El Refugio camping site is located right next to El Relincho and offers a more basic comfort (hot showers, barbecue) as well as cabanas for those who like to feel a little more at home.

Del Lago (Lago del Desierto, 137, from USD$2): Camping site with all necessary equipment such as bathrooms, hot water and electricity.

La Torcida (Llao Llao, 33, from USD$3): Situated at the entrance of the hiking trail to the Laguna Torre, La Torcida camping is economical, clean and comfortable. It is possible to buy or rent camping or hiking equipment in El Chaltén.

Hostels
El Rancho Grande (San Martin, 724, USD$14 for a bed in a dormitory for 10, USD$45 for a bedroom and bathroom for 2, USD$65 for a bedroom and bathroom for 3, USD$80 for a bedroom and bathroom for 4,wifi and breakfast included): Big kitchen and common rooms. Clean and comfortable establishment. The hostel offers many services, including money exchange, excursions, bus tickets, laundrette. The bus from and to El Calafate stops in front of the hostel. You will stay in this hostel if you decide to take the package deal of bus+night in El Chalten from El Calafate.

Condor de Los Andes (at the intersection between Rio de las Vueltas and Halvorsen, opened from October to April, USD$17 for a bed in a dormitory for 4 or 6, USD$65 for a bedroom and bathroom for 2, wifi and breakfast included): A welcoming ambiance and clean facilities. Breakfast can becoming a little repetitive for those who stay more than a few days. Great quality-price ratio and good information given at reception.

Patagonia Travellers Hostel (San Martin, 493, opened from September to March, USD$14 for a bed in a dormitory for 4, USD$50 for a bedroom and bathroom for 2, wifi and breakfast included): A comfortable wooden chalet with the perfect ambiance for an evening after a day of hiking.Clean and well-equipped hostel, with great reception.

Hotels
Browse hotels in El Chalten

Inlandsis (Lago del Desierto, 480, opened from November to April, prices vary between USD$50 to USD$130 depending on the type of accommodation, wifi included): Charming bungalows for up to 6 people, with a stunning view on the Fitz Roy, perfect for an independent stay in El Chalten. You may also opt for a bedroom for 2 with breakfast included.

Cabanas Austral (San Martin, 649, USD$60 for a bungalow for 2, opened from October to June, wifi included): Two charming chalet, with 6 apartments in total, each made of a bedroom, equipped kitchen and living room. Information and laundrette service is available at the reception, open 24h/24h.

B&B Nothofagus (at the intersection of Riquelme and Hensen, from USD$65 for a bedroom for 2, wifi included): Stunning little blue house with bright and clean rooms (a few have a view on the Fitz Roy). A charming adresse for a comfortable stay in El Chalten with Eva and Gerardo.

Useful information

- Oficina de Turismo (found in the Bus Terminal, opened from 8h to 22h during high season)
- Centro de Visitantes del Parque Nacional (on the left, at the entrance of the town, opened every day from 9h to 17h and sometimes 19h in summer and from 10h to 16h during the rest of the year): It is advised to always ask about the weather forecast before leaving on a hike.

Tierra del Fuego

Click for larger view


Ushuaia

Map of Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego & Map Sector Lapataia

Considered as the most austral city of the world, Ushuaia is named "el fin del mundo" (the end of the world) by Argentineans. It is at the end of Patagonia in a region called Tierra del Fuego and offers a departure gate towards Antarctica and the South Pole. However, the truth is that Puerto Williams, on the other edge of the Beagle Canal, on the Chilean side, is found a little bit further south but is not as famous and vast as the city of Ushuaia. The myth around Ushuaia has made this city an expensive place to stay, eat and shop. Going to Ushuaia can be quite a hassle and many travellers tend to ask themselves if it is worth the detour. The truth is that if you have time (around 3 or 4 days - one for the road and the rest to visit Ushuaia) and your budget is not too restricted, it is worth finishing your trip at the "end of the world" as it remains quite a powerful place to be and you will definitely enjoy an outing to the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego and a boat excursion on the Beagle Canal.

Activities

Within the city
Museo Maritimo (USD$12 entry fee, opened everyday from 9h to 20h and from 10h to 20h from April to November): http://www.museomaritimo.com. Ticket are valid the following day. Guided visits of the museum are available in spanish, at 11h30, 16h30 and 18h30 and audio guides can be obtained for a small fee. The museum is found in the old prison of Ushuaia, build in 1902 by Argentine authorities and filled mostly with political prisoners in order to occupy the territory. Inside the museum, you will find a few rooms dedicated to the Yamanas Indians as well as information on the boat expeditions to Tierra del Fuego, life for prisoners held in this building, the history of Ushuaia and even a room dedicated to the fauna of Antarctica.

Historia Fueguina (USD$9 entry fee and free for children under 12 years old, opened from 12h to 20h Monday to Saturday): http://www.historiafueguina.com/es/. More on the Yamanas Indians and the history of Ushuaia.

Museo del Fin del Mundo (USD$6 entry fee, opened Monday from 14h to 19h, Tuesday to Friday from 10h to 19h and on weekends from 14h to 20h): Small museum focused on the Tierra del Fuego.

Capsula del Fin del Mundo: On the paseo de los Artesanos, a rather strangely looking monument destined to be opened in 2492, holds copies of 1992 TV-shows and hundreds of Argentines' testimonies so that future generations find out how we have been living.

Around the city
Ushuaia, Argentina Ushuaia, Argentina
Boat excursion on the Beagle Canal: You will have the choice between a variety of boat excursions offered by various agencies, all found on the harbor. Boat excursions are available all year long but during winter, the boats will only go to the lighthouse Les Eclaireurs. The price for a 2h30 or 4h excursion to the Sea Lions Island, the Bird's Island, the lighthouse Les Eclaireurs as well as a Hike on the Bridges Island will cost between USD$58 and USD$70, depending on the capacity of the boat, the length of the trip and if snacks are available on board. If your budget allows it, we recommend the fabulous 6h boat excursion with Piratour to the Sea Lions Island, the Bird's Island, the lighthouse Les Eclaireurs and a hike on the Martillo Island (Penguin Island), situated in front of the oldest estancia of Tierra del Fuego, the estancia Haberton, where you will be able to stop for an afternoon tea. The estancia Haberton is also accessible by car and is opened everyday from 10h to 19h.

Tren del Fin del Mundo (USD$13 park entry fee, free during winter): Get on board a 45 min journey along a river and the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego in a reconstruction of a small train used by prisoners at the beginning of the XX century. Usually the excursion is done through a travel agency and you may consider staying in the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego for the day so that you only pay the entry fee once.

Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego (USD$13 park entry fee, free during winter): If you wish to be dropped in the park, a bus leaves at 10h, 11h, 12h and 14h from Ushuaia and picks you up either at 15h or at 17h during winter. Departures from the park can be done later during summer. Stunning hikes of 600m to 8 km and low to high difficulty are available around the park. Travel agencies in Ushuaia offer organised visits and trekkings in the park for USD$52 plus park entry fee.

Horseback riding: En el centro hipico Fin del Mundo, you can leave for a horse riding excursion around the Monte Susana and the Beagle Canal. A 2h excursion will cost about USD$58, transport included (USD$115 for 4h and USD$170 for 7h). There is also the possibility to leave on a 10 day excursion on the Peninsula Mitre with a guide, assurance, equipment, transfer, snacks and medical kit.

Trekking to the Glaciar Martial: The base of the glacier is found 7km away from Ushuaia, where you can enjoy an afternoon tea at the famous Casa de Té, opened every day from 8h to 20h. This is also where Ushuaia ski school is situated. From there, you may rent crampons or snowshoes to climb up to the Glacier Martial, where you will have a beautiful view on the city, the Beagle Canal and the Isla Navarino. This excursion can be done through a travel agency, leaving at 9h30 and coming back for 15h, including a guide, translator, lunch box and equipment, for the obscene price of USD$95. A similar excursion is offered to the Laguna Esmeralda, but once again, we recommend that if you have enough experience, it is best to go on this hike by your own means.

Flight over Ushuaia (USD$330/pers for 1h and USD$260/pers if you are two): A costly activity that will leave you speechless if you decide to get on board. From this unforgettable flight over the Beagle Canal, you will see the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, the Andes Mountains, the lighthouse Les Eclaireurs, a part of Chile and its glaciers, Puerto Williams and the canal Murray leading to the Cap horn, in a plane for only 3 to 5 people.

Where to eat and drink

El Turco (San Martin, 175): A family restaurant, perfect for a quick, simple, copious and economical meal (around USD$15 per person).

Kaupé (Roca 470): The family-run restaurant, found on a hill overlooking the Ushuaia harbour, is widely acknowledged as one of the best restaurants in Ushuaia for seafood (particularly for its centolla - King Crab-, Ushuaia's speciality). While the food and service are exceptional, the restaurant remains expensive (above USD$30 per person). It is best to make a reservation during high season.

Chez Manu (Luis Marcial, 2135): If you are heading towards the Glaciar Martial, do not miss the three course set lunch deal at Chez Manu or a nice diner away from the city. The creative and sophisticated menu is a perfect harmony between local ingredients and french cuisine. Only opened in the evening during low season. It is best to make a reservation during high season. It is not cheap but the prices are reasonable considering the quality of the food and the beautiful view over Ushuaia and its bay (above USD$30 per person).

Kalma Resto (M. F, Gdor. Manuel Fernandez Valdez 293): A restaurant runned by a young chef, who offers a modern and creative dishes. Beautiful setting and nice wine (above USD$40 per person).

Where to sleep

Camping
Rio Pipo (H. Yrigoyen 2490, opened from November to February, between USD$4,50 and USD$7,50 per person per night): In the middle of forest, along a river. The camping is equipped with a large equipped kitchen and communal room as well as sanitary facilities and laundromat. The nearest supermarket is found at 20 min by foot.

Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego: There are four allowed camping sites in the park as well as one equipped camping, along the Lago Roca, a little after the Centro de Visitantes Alakush. Hot showers are available from 17h to 19h. There are bathrooms, picnic tables, BBQ and a shelter with 15 beds and an equipped kitchen. The cafeteria is opened everyday from 10h to 19h in summer and from 10h to 17h during winter. If you stay at the camping, you can obtain a pass that allows you to stay three days in the park.

Hostels
Antarctica Hostel (Antartida Argentina 270, USD$24 for a bed in a dormitory for 6, USD$90 for a bedroom for 2, wifi and breakfast included): Great location in the center of Ushuaia and very friendly staff. A welcoming ambiance and clean facilities. Unfortunately, the hostel is near a nightclub, which means that week-end nights may be noisy.

Cruz del Sur Hostel (Gobernador Deloqui 242, USD$23 for a bed in a dormitory for 4 or 6, wifi and breakfast included): The colourful hostel has clean facilities and a great location in the center of Ushuaia.The only downsides is that the wifi is only available in the common rooms and the kitchen closes early at 10pm. Fully equipped hostel (kitchen, BBQ, parking, lockers, TV, towels and bed sheets).

La Posta (Peron Sur, 864, USD$24 for a bed in a dormitory for 5 or 6 or 8 and between USD$75 and USD$190 for private bedrooms or apartments,wifi and breakfast included): The hostel is at a 5min bus ride of the city center and the walking path towards the city center is along the coast of Ushuaia. Fully equipped hostel (kitchen, washing machine, BBQ, parking, lockers, TV, towels and bed sheets) and a friendly, helpful staff.

Galeazzi Basily B&B (Gobernador Valdez 323, USD$78 for a double room with shared bathroom and USD$140 for a private room and bathroom for 4, wifi and breakfast included): The B&B is close to downtown but far enough of the main streets hustle.

Hotel
Hosteria Linares (Gobernador Deloqui 1255, USD$120 for a double bedroom, wifi and breakfast included): From the city center, the Hosteria Linares offers a beautiful view on Ushuaia's bay (ask for a room on the first floor).

Useful information

- Oficina de Turismo (avenida Prefectura Naval Argentina 470, opened every day from 8h to 21h during summer)
- Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego (San Martin 1395, opened Monday to Friday from 9h to 16h): website
- Oficina Antartica (on the harbour, opened Monday to Friday from 9h to 17h): Information on Antarctica as well as possible excursions but they do not sell any tickets.

What's Next?

Next: Patagonia: The Chile Side